Monday, February 25, 2008

The Tennessee River
This river was everthing for all people in early America. As a Tennessee farm boy during the Great Depression years, it was a joy to see what God gave us. In 1540, Hernando DeSoto's Spanish expedition traveled the Tennessee River from the present location of Chattanooga to the present location of Guntersville. This was the first recorded exploration of the Tennessee by white men. For the next two hundred years Indian settlements remained virtually undisturbed in the Tennessee Valley. Indian life in the valley was tied strongly to the river.

These tribes, which included the Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw, sited most all of their towns along the river. Other large Indian settlements were found on tributaries of the Tennessee or on river islands. The river was the primary means of transportation among these villages. During the latter part of the 1600's the Tennessee River was a vital part of the French trade route between the Mississippi Valley and Charleston, South Carolina.

By the early 1700's the French had established several trading posts along the river. Following this was conflict between the French and English, each seeking to control trade with the Indians. This conflict resulted in the French and Indian War of 1760 which left the English in control of the area. Most early settlers of the Tennessee Valley came from the colonies in Virginia or North Carolina. Nearly all of these settlements were located along streams or rivers. In 1791 Knoxville became the capitol of the Territory South of the Ohio.

Chattanooga was originally called Rossâ Landing. Rossâ Landing was a Indian trading post for many years and was not incorporated as the City of Chattanooga until the removal of the Cherokee Indians in 1838.

One of the first settlements in North Alabama was found along the Tennessee River. Fort Deposit was located along the northern bank of the river approximately eight miles north of the present location of Guntersville.

General Jackson used this settlement as a supply base at the beginning of the Creek Indian War in 1813. Fort Deposit was situated in a saddle between two high bluffs. This allowed easy access to the river from a spot that could be easily defended.

Ditto Landing in Madison County, Alabama was a landing for flatboats and keelboats during the early 1800's. The settlement was named for John Ditto, who is thought to have been the first white settler in Madison County around 1804. Flower was brought here from other parts of the river in such quantity that the U.S. government made Ditto landing a Port of Entryâ. U.S. inspectors were sent to the landing where all flour for sale was inspected, graded, and stamped.

In 1820 President Monroe reserved a site for a town to be called Decatur in honor of Commodore Decatur of the U.S. Navy. The Decatur Land Company was formed the same year, however the site remained a part of the Cherokee Reservation until1826. Decatur, Alabama lies on the south bank of the Tennessee River, and was a strategic point for commercial navigation because of its proximity near the head of the Muscle Shoals. The Tuscumbia, Cortland & Decatur railway was completed in 1834. Goods were transferred too and from steamboats here and shipped by rail around Muscle Shoals.

Florence, Alabama was surveyed in 1818 by the Italian Engineer Ferdinand Sannona for the Cypress Land Company.For his work the young engineer was allowed to name the city, which he called Florence for his home in Italy. The Cypress Land Company purchased the land from the government because of its proximity near the foot of the Muscle Shoals. The company thought that at this location must œin the natural course of things, spring up one of the largest commercial towns in the interior of the southwestern section of the Union. Florence would become the head of navigation for the lower Tennessee, although it would never reach the size anticipated by its founders.

Tuscumbia, Alabama was first settled by whites in 1815 at the site of a Cherokee village destroyed by General James Robertson in 1787. The town was incorporated as Ococoposa in 1820. The name was changed to Big Spring in 1821. Finally the town was named Tuscumbia in 1822 in honor of Chief Taski Ambi who sold the land at the time of its settlement. In 1831 the first railroad west of the Allegheny Mountains was built in Tuscumbia, it ran two miles to the Tennessee River.

Sheffield, Alabama was settled as a trading post by the French in 1780. The city was founded in 1784. Andrew Jackson said that Sheffield would be a ideal location for a national capitol.

Paducah, Kentucky lies at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, twelve miles down stream of the mouth of the Cumberland River. This area was settled by the Indians and known as Pekin. The U.S. government gave General George Rogers Clark a track of land for his services which included this area. His youngest son, General William Clark, changed the name to Paducah in 1827 in Honor of the Indian Chief Paducah whose favorite camping ground was located here.

In 1807 the steamer Clermont demonstrated the practicability of steam navigation on inland waters when it traveled up the Hudson River. During 1811 and 1812 the Steamer New Orleans carried goods up and down the Mississippi River. These vessels deep draft made their navigation on the Tennessee unpractical and dangerous. The steamer Washington was built in 1816 and designed with a shallow draft, bringing steam travel on the Tennessee closer to reality. It is thought that the first steamboat to travel as far up the Tennessee as the Muscle Shoals reached Florence in 1821.

In February 1822 the Rocket arrived at Florence and began regular trips to Trinity, near the mouth of the Ohio. The first steamboat to pass over the Muscle Shoals and reach Knoxville was the Atlas in 1828. By 1835 steamboats traveled regularly from Knoxville, Tennessee to Decatur, Alabama when water was high. In 1836 a canal was built around the Muscle Shoals by the State of Alabama with Federal aid. The canal was not very successful and by the mid 1800's the railroads began to take traffic away from the rivers.

Friday, February 22, 2008

US Marine Corps Navajo Code Talkers
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima: the Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language -- a code that the Japanese never broke.

The idea to use Navajo for secure communications came from Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajos and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. Johnston, reared on the Navajo reservation, was a World War I veteran who knew of the military's search for a code that would withstand all attempts to decipher it. He also knew that Native American languages--notably Choctaw--had been used in World War I to encode messages.

Johnston believed Navajo answered the military requirement for an undecipherable code because Navajo is an unwritten language of extreme complexity. Its syntax and tonal qualities, not to mention dialects, make it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training. It has no alphabet or symbols, and is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest. One estimate indicates that less than 30 non-Navajos, none of them Japanese, could understand the language at the outbreak of World War II.

Early in 1942, Johnston met with Major General Clayton B. Vogel, the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, and his staff to convince them of the Navajo language's value as code. Johnston staged tests under simulated combat conditions, demonstrating that Navajos could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds. Machines of the time required 30 minutes to perform the same job. Convinced, Vogel recommended to the Commandant of the Marine Corps that the Marines recruit 200 Navajos.

In May 1942, the first 29 Navajo recruits attended boot camp. Then, at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, this first group created the Navajo code. They developed a dictionary and numerous words for military terms. The dictionary and all code words had to be memorized during training.

Once a Navajo code talker completed his training, he was sent to a Marine unit deployed in the Pacific theater. The code talkers' primary job was to talk, transmitting information on tactics and troop movements, orders and other vital battlefield communications over telephones and radios. They also acted as messengers, and performed general Marine duties.

Praise for their skill, speed and accuracy accrued throughout the war. At Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." Connor had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. Those six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error.

The Japanese, who were skilled code breakers, remained baffled by the Navajo language. The Japanese chief of intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue, said that while they were able to decipher the codes used by the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps, they never cracked the code used by the Marines. The Navajo code talkers even stymied a Navajo soldier taken prisoner at Bataan. (About 20 Navajos served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines.) The Navajo soldier, forced to listen to the jumbled words of talker transmissions, said to a code talker after the war, "I never figured out what you guys who got me into all that trouble were saying."

In 1942, there were about 50,000 Navajo tribe members. As of 1945, about 540 Navajos served as Marines. From 375 to 420 of those trained as code talkers; the rest served in other capacities.

Navajo remained potentially valuable as code even after the war. For that reason, the code talkers, whose skill and courage saved both American lives and military engagements, only recently earned recognition from the Government and the public.

The Navajo Code Talker's Dictionary
When a Navajo code talker received a message, what he heard was a string of seemingly unrelated Navajo words. The code talker first had to translate each Navajo word into its English equivalent. Then he used only the first letter of the English equivalent in spelling an English word. Thus, the Navajo words "wol-la-chee" (ant), "be-la-sana" (apple) and "tse-nill" (axe) all stood for the letter "a." One way to say the word "Navy" in Navajo code would be "tsah (needle) wol-la-chee (ant) ah-keh-di- glini (victor) tsah-ah-dzoh (yucca)."

Most letters had more than one Navajo word representing them. Not all words had to be spelled out letter by letter. The developers of the original code assigned Navajo words to represent about 450 frequently used military terms that did not exist in the Navajo language. Several examples: "besh- lo" (iron fish) meant "submarine," "dah-he- tih-hi" (hummingbird) meant "fighter plane" and "debeh-li-zine" (black street) meant "squad."

Department of Defense Honors Navajo Veterans
Long unrecognized because of the continued value of their language as a security classified code, the Navajo code talkers of World War II were honored for their contributions to defense on Sept. 17, 1992, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Thirty-five code talkers, all veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, attended the dedication of the Navajo code talker exhibit. The exhibit includes a display of photographs, equipment and the original code, along with an explanation of how the code worked.

Dedication ceremonies included speeches by the then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald Atwood, U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Navajo President Peterson Zah. The Navajo veterans and their families traveled to the ceremony from their homes on the Navajo Reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The largest island of the West Indies group (equal in area to Pennsylvania), Cuba is also the westernmost—just west of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and 90 mi (145 km) south of Key West, Fla., at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. The island is mountainous in the southeast and south-central area (Sierra Maestra). It is flat or rolling elsewhere. Cuba also includes numerous smaller islands, islets, and cays.

Communist state
Arawak (or Taino) Indians inhabiting Cuba when Columbus landed on the island in 1492 died from diseases brought by sailors and settlers. By 1511, Spaniards under Diego Velásquez had established settlements. Havana's superb harbor made it a common transit point to and from Spain.
In the early 1800s, Cuba's sugarcane industry boomed, requiring massive numbers of black slaves. A simmering independence movement turned into open warfare from 1867 to 1878. Slavery was abolished in 1886. In 1895, the poet José Marti led the struggle that finally ended Spanish rule, thanks largely to U.S. intervention in 1898 after the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor.
An 1899 treaty made Cuba an independent republic under U.S. protection. The U.S. occupation, which ended in 1902, suppressed yellow fever and brought large American investments. The 1901 Platt Amendment allowed the U.S. to intervene in Cuba's affairs, which it did four times from 1906 to 1920. Cuba terminated the amendment in 1934.
In 1933 a group of army officers, including army sergeant Fulgencio Batista, overthrew President Gerardo Machado. Batista became president in 1940, running a corrupt police state.
In 1956, Fidel Castro Ruz launched a revolution from his camp in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Castro's brother Raul and Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, an Argentine physician, were his top lieutenants. Many anti-Batista landowners supported the rebels. The U.S. ended military aid to Cuba in 1958, and on New Year's Day 1959, Batista fled into exile and Castro took over the government.
The U.S. initially welcomed what looked like a democratic Cuba, but a rude awakening came within a few months when Castro established military tribunals for political opponents and jailed hundreds. Castro disavowed Cuba's 1952 military pact with the U.S., confiscated U.S. assets, and established Soviet-style collective farms. The U.S. broke relations with Cuba on Jan. 3, 1961, and Castro formalized his alliance with the Soviet Union. Thousands of Cubans fled the country.
In 1961 a U.S.-backed group of Cuban exiles invaded Cuba. Planned during the Eisenhower administration, the invasion was given the go-ahead by President John Kennedy, although he refused to give U.S. air support. The landing at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, was a fiasco. The invaders did not receive popular Cuban support and were easily repulsed by the Cuban military.
A Soviet attempt to install medium-range missiles in Cuba—capable of striking targets in the United States with nuclear warheads—provoked a crisis in 1962. Denouncing the Soviets for “deliberate deception,” on Oct. 22 Kennedy said that the U.S. would blockade Cuba so the missiles could not be delivered. Six days later Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the missile sites dismantled and returned to the USSR, in return for a U.S. pledge not to attack Cuba.
The U.S. established limited diplomatic ties with Cuba on Sept. 1, 1977, making it easier for Cuban Americans to visit the island. Contact with the more affluent Cuban Americans prompted a wave of discontent in Cuba, producing a flood of asylum seekers. In response, Castro opened the port of Mariel to a “freedom flotilla” of boats from the U.S., allowing 125,000 to flee to Miami. After the refugees arrived, it was discovered their ranks were swelled with prisoners, mental patients, homosexuals, and others unwanted by the Cuban government.
Cuba fomented Communist revolutions around the world, especially in Angola, where thousands of Cuban troops were sent in the 1980s.
Russian aid, which had long supported Cuba's failing economy, ended when Communism collapsed in eastern Europe in 1990. Cuba's foreign trade also plummeted, producing a severe economic crisis. In 1993, Castro permitted limited private enterprise, allowed Cubans to possess convertible currencies, and encouraged foreign investment in its tourist industry. In March 1996, the U.S. tightened its embargo with the Helms-Burton Act.
Christmas became an official holiday in 1997 for the first time since the revolution, in response to Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit to Cuba, which raised hopes for greater religious freedom.
In June 2000, Castro won a publicity bonanza when the Clinton administration sent Elian Gonzalez, a young Cuban boy found clinging to an inner tube near Miami, back to Cuba. The U.S. Cuban community had demanded that the boy remain in Miami rather than be returned to his father in Cuba. By many accounts, the influential Cuban Americans lost public sympathy by pitting political ideology against familial bonds.
In March and April 2003, Castro sent nearly 80 dissidents to prison with long sentences, prompting an international condemnation of Cuba's harsh crackdown on human rights.
The Bush administration tightened its embargo in June 2004, allowing Cuban Americans to return to the island only once every three years (instead of every year) and restricting the amount of U.S. cash that can be spent there to $50 per day. In response, Cuba banned the use of dollars, which had been legal currency in the country for more than a decade.
In July 2006, Castro—hospitalized because of an illness—turned over power temporarily to his brother Raúl. In October it was revealed that Castro has cancer and will not return to power.
In January 2008, 17 months after his emergency intestinal surgery, 81 year old Castro wrote a public statement that he was not healthy enough to campaign in the upcoming parliamentary elections, though he has not withdrawn from the election. Castro's announcement was followed by a national television broadcast showing a recent meeting between himself and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil where he told the Brazilian president that he was feeling very good. ***
In the January 2008 parliamentary elections, both Fidel and Raúl Castro were re-elected to the National Assembly as well as the other 614 unopposed candidates presented to voters.
In February 2008, Fidel Castro ended 49 years of power when he announced his retirement. The 81 year old, who ruled Cuba since leading a revolution in 1959, said he would not accept another term as President.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history from 1861 to 1865 during the American Civil War. During his presidency, Davis was never able to find a strategy that would defeat the larger, more industrially developed Union. Davis' insistence on independence even in the face of crushing defeat prolonged the war, and while not exactly disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by the leading general, Robert E. Lee. After Davis was captured in 1865, he was charged but not convicted with treason and was stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. This disability was removed in 1978, 89 years after his death. A West Point graduate, Davis prided himself on the military skills he gained in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and as U.S. Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce.

Early life and military career
Davis was the youngest of the ten children of Samuel Emory Davis (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1756 – 4 July 1824) and wife (married 1783) Jane Cook (Christian County, (later Todd County), Kentucky, 1759 – 3 October 1845), daughter of William Cook and wife Sarah Simpson, daughter of Samuel Simpson (1706 – 1791) and wife Hannah ... (b. 1710). The younger Davis' grandfather Evan Davis (Cardiff, County Glamorgan, 1729 – 1758) immigrated from Wales and had once lived in Virginia and Maryland, marrying Lydia Emory. His father, along with his uncles, had served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War; he fought with the Georgia cavalry and fought in the Siege of Savannah as an infantry officer. Also, three of his older brothers served during the War of 1812. Two of them served under Andrew Jackson and received commendation for bravery in the Battle of New Orleans.

During Davis' youth, the family moved twice; in 1811 to St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, and in 1812 to Wilkinson County, Mississippi near the town of Woodville. In 1813, Davis began his education together with his sister Mary, attending a log cabin school a mile from their home in the small town of Woodville, known as the Wilkinson Academy. Two years later, Davis entered the Catholic school of Saint Thomas at St. Rose Priory, a school operated by the Dominican Order in Washington County, Kentucky. At the time, he was the only Protestant student.

Davis went on to Jefferson College at Washington, Mississippi, in 1818, and to Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1821. In 1824, Davis entered the United States Military Academy (West Point). He completed his four-year term as a West Point cadet, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1828 following graduation.

Davis was assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment and was stationed at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin. His first assignment, in 1829, was to supervise the cutting of timber on the banks of the Red Cedar River for the repair and enlargement of the fort. Later the same year, he was reassigned to Fort Winnebago. While supervising the construction and management of a sawmill in the Yellow River in 1831, he contracted pneumonia, causing him to return to Fort Crawford.

The year after, Davis was dispatched to Galena, Illinois, at the head of a detachment assigned to remove miners from lands claimed by the Native Americans. Lieutenant Davis was home in Mississippi for the entire Black Hawk War, returning after the Battle of Bad Axe. Following the conflict, he was assigned by his colonel, Zachary Taylor, to escort Black Hawk himself to prison—it is said that the chief liked Davis because of the kind treatment he had shown. Another of Davis' duties during this time was to keep miners from illegally entering what would eventually become the state of Iowa.

Marriage, plantation life, and early political career
Davis fell in love with Colonel Taylor's daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor. Her father did not approve of the match, so Davis resigned his commission and married Miss Taylor on June 17, 1835, at the house of her aunt near Louisville, Kentucky. The marriage, however, proved to be short. While visiting Davis' oldest sister near Saint Francisville, Louisiana, both newlyweds contracted malaria, and Davis' wife died three months after the wedding on September 15, 1835. In 1836, he moved to Brierfield Plantation in Warren County, Mississippi. For the next eight years, Davis was a recluse, studying government and history, and engaging in private political discussions with his brother Joseph.

The year 1844 saw Davis' first political success, as he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, taking office on March 4 of the following year. In 1845, Davis married Varina Howell, the granddaughter of late New Jersey Governor Richard Howell whom he met the year before, at her home in Natchez, Mississippi.

There is a portrait of Mrs Jefferson Davis in old age at the Jefferson Davis Shrine in Biloxi, Mississippi, painted by Adolfo Mьller-Ury (1862-1947) in 1895 and dubbed 'Widow of the Confederacy'. It was exhibited at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in New York in 1897. The Museum of the Confederacy at Richmond, Virginia, possesses Mьller-Ury's 1897-98 profile portrait of their daughter Winnie Davis which the artist presented to the Museum in 1918.

Second military career
The year 1846 saw the beginning of the Mexican-American War. He resigned his House seat in June, and raised a volunteer regiment, the Mississippi Rifles, becoming its colonel. On July 21, 1846 they sailed from New Orleans for the Texas coast. Davis armed the regiment with percussion rifles and trained the regiment in their use, making it particularly effective in combat.

In September of the same year, he participated in the successful siege of Monterrey, Mexico. He fought bravely at the Battle of Buena Vista on February 22, 1847, and was shot in the foot, being carried to safety by Robert H. Chilton. In recognition of Davis's bravery and initiative, commanding general Zachary Taylor is reputed to have said, "My daughter, sir, was a better judge of men than I was."

President James K. Polk offered him a Federal commission as a brigadier general and command of a brigade of militia. He declined the appointment, arguing that the United States Constitution gives the power of appointing militia officers to the states, and not to the Federal government of the United States.

Return to politics

Because of his war service, the Governor of Mississippi appointed Davis to fill out the Senate term of the late Jesse Speight. He took his seat 5 December 1847, and was elected to serve the remainder of his term in January 1848. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution appointed him a regent at the end of December 1847.

The Senate made Davis chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. When his term expired, he was elected to the same seat (by the Mississippi legislature, as the Constitution mandated at the time). He had not served a year when he resigned (in September 1851) to run for the Governorship of Mississippi on the issue of the Compromise of 1850, which Davis opposed. This election bid was unsuccessful, as he was defeated by fellow senator Henry Stuart Foote by 999 votes.

Left without political office, Davis continued his political activity. He took part in a convention on states' rights, held at Jackson, Mississippi in January 1852. In the weeks leading up to the presidential election of 1852, he campaigned in numerous Southern states for Democratic candidates Franklin Pierce and William R. King.

Secretary of War
Pierce won the election and, in 1853, made Davis his Secretary of War. In this capacity, Davis gave to Congress four annual reports (in December of each year), as well as an elaborate one (submitted on February 22, 1855) on various routes for the proposed Transcontinental Railroad. The Pierce Administration ended in 1857. The President lost the Democratic nomination, which went instead to James Buchanan. Davis' term was to end with Pierce's, so he ran successfully for the Senate, and re-entered it on March 4, 1857.

Return to Senate
His renewed service in the Senate was interrupted by an illness that threatened him with the loss of his left eye. Still nominally serving in the Senate, Davis spent the summer of 1858 in Portland, Maine. On the Fourth of July, he delivered an anti-secessionist speech on board a ship near Boston. He again urged the preservation of the Union on October 11 in Faneuil Hall, Boston, and returned to the Senate soon after.

As Davis explained in his memoir, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," he believed that each State was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union. He counseled delay among his fellow Southerners, however, because he did not think that the North would permit the peaceable exercise of the right to secession. Having served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, he also knew that the South lacked the military and naval resources necessary to defend itself if the North attacked. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, however, events accelerated. South Carolina adopted an ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, and Mississippi and did so on January 9, 1861. As soon as Davis received official notification of that fact, he delivered a farewell address to the United States Senate, resigned, and returned to Mississippi.

President of the Confederate States 1861-1865
Four days after his resignation, Davis was commissioned a Major General of Mississippi troops. On February 9, 1861, a Constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama named him provisional President of the Confederate States of America and he was inaugurated on February 18. In meetings of his own Mississippi legislature, Davis had argued against secession; but when a majority of the delegates opposed him, he gave in. Davis was not opposed to secession in principle; he counseled delay because he did not believe the North would agree to the peaceable exercise of the claimed right, and he knew that the South was not prepared for war.

In conformity with a resolution of the Confederate Congress, Davis immediately appointed a Peace Commission to resolve the Confederacy's differences with the Union. In March 1861, before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Commission was to travel to Washington, D.C., to offer to pay for any Federal property on Southern soil, as well as the Southern portion of the national debt, but it was not authorized to discuss terms for reunion. He appointed General P.G.T. Beauregard to command Confederate troops in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina. He approved the Cabinet decision to bombard Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. When Virginia switched from neutrality and joined the Confederacy, he moved his government to Richmond, Virginia, in May 1861. Davis and his family took up his residence there at the White House of the Confederacy in late May.

Davis was elected to a six-year term as President of the Confederacy on November 6, 1868. He had never served a full term in any elective office, and that would turn out to be the case on this occasion as well. He was inaugurated on February 22, 1862. In June, 1862, he assigned General Robert E. Lee to replace the wounded Joseph E. Johnston in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the main Confederate army in the Eastern Theater. That December, he made a tour of Confederate armies in the west of the country. Davis largely made the main strategic decisions on his own, or approved those suggested by Lee. He had a very small circle of military advisors.

In August 1863, Davis declined General Lee's offer of resignation after his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. As Confederate military fortunes turned for the worse in 1864, he visited Georgia with the intent of raising morale.

On April 3, 1865, with Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant poised to capture Richmond, Davis escaped for Danville, Virginia, together with the Confederate Cabinet, leaving on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. He issued his last official proclamation as President of the Confederacy, and then went south to Greensboro, North Carolina. Circa April 12, he received Robert E. Lee's letter announcing surrender.

President Jefferson Davis met with his Confederate Cabinet for the last time on May 5, 1865 in Washington, Georgia, and the Confederate Government was officially dissolved. The meeting took place at the Heard house, the Georgia Branch Bank Building, with fourteen officials present. On May 10, he was captured at Irwinville in Irwin County, Georgia. After being captured, he was held as a prisoner for two years in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Imprisonment and retirement
On May 19, 1865, Davis was imprisoned in a casemate at Fortress Monroe, on the coast of Virginia. He was placed in irons for three days. Davis was indicted for treason a year later. While in prison, Davis arranged to sell his Mississippi estate to one of his former slaves, Ben Montgomery. Montgomery was a talented business manager, mechanic, and even an inventor who had become wealthy in part from running his own general store.

The next year, after imprisonment of two years, he was released on bail which was posted by prominent citizens of both northern and southern states, including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Gerrit Smith (Smith, as a member of the Secret Six, had earlier supported John Brown). Davis visited Canada, Cuba and Europe. In December 1868, the court rejected a motion to nullify the indictment, but the prosecution dropped the case in February 1869.

In 1869 Davis became president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon Robert E. Lee's death in 1870, Davis presided over the memorial meeting in Richmond, Virginia. Elected to the U.S. Senate again, he was refused the office in 1875, having been barred from Federal office by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He also turned down the opportunity to become the first president of The Agriculture and Mechanical College of Texas, which is now Texas A&M University.

In 1876, he promoted a society for the stimulation of U.S. trade with South America. Davis visited England the next year, returning in 1878 to Beauvoir (Biloxi, Mississippi). Over the next three years there, Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Having completed that book, he visited Europe again, and traveled to Alabama and Georgia the following year.

He completed A Short History of the Confederate States of America in October 1889. Two months later on December 6, Davis died in New Orleans of unestablished cause at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was one of the largest ever staged in the South, and included a continuous cortиge, day and night, from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Battle of Iwo Jima
The first flag on Iwo Jima: On Feb. 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions stormed ashore on Iwo Jima. The battle continued with the Japanese into March during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The U.S. invasion, known as Operation Detachment, was charged with the mission of capturing the airfields on Iwo Jima.

The battle was marked by some of the fiercest fighting of the campaign. The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with vast bunkers, hidden artillery, and 18 kilometers (11 mi) of tunnels. he battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands and the Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, over 20,000 were killed and only 216 taken prisoner.

Joe Rosenthal photographed five Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag atop the 166 meter (546 ft) Mount Suribachi. The photograph records what was actually the second flag-raising on the mountain, which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. The picture became the iconic image of the battle and may be the most reproduced photograph of all time.

Iwo Jima is a volcanic island about 1,200 km (650 nautical miles) south of Tokyo, 1,300 km (702 nautical miles) north of Guam and approximately halfway between Tokyo and Saipan (24.756°N, 141.290°E). It is approximately 21 square kilometers (5,200 ac), with Mount Suribachi at its southern tip being its most prominent feature. In June 2007 the island was officially renamed Iwo To, a name that had been used by local residents before the war. The name was changed on protest from former residents and after two popular Clint Eastwood films (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima) eferenced the island as Iwo Jima. The Japanese characters for Iwo Jima and Iwo To are the same, but the pronunciation changed when Japanese soldiers arrived and pronounced it differently than the residents.

After the American seizure of the Marshall Islands and devastating air attacks against Truk in the Caroline Islands in February 1944 the Japanese military leadership reappraised the military situation. All indications pointed to an American drive towards the Marianas and Carolines. To counter such a move they established an inner line of defense extending generally northward from the Carolines to the Marianas, and thence to the Ogasawara Islands. In March 1944 the Thirty-First Army, commanded by General Hideyoshi Obata, was activated for the purpose of garrisoning this inner line. The commander of the Chichi Jima garrison was placed nominally in command of Army and Navy units in the Ogasawara Islands.

Following the American seizure of bases in the Marshalls in the battles of Kwajalein and Eniwetok in February 1944 both Army and Navy reinforcements were sent to Iwo Jima. Five hundred men from the naval base at Yokosuka and an additional 500 from Chichi Jima reached Iwo Jima during March and April 1944. At the same time, with the arrival of reinforcements from Chichi Jima and the home islands, the Army garrison on Iwo Jima had reached a strength of over 5,000 men, equipped with 13 artillery pieces, 200 light and heavy machine guns, and 4,552 rifles. In addition there were numerous 120 mm coastal artillery guns, twelve heavy anti-aircraft guns, and thirty 25 mm dual-mount anti-aircraft guns.

The loss of the Marianas during the northern summer of 1944 greatly increased the importance of the Ogasawaras for the Japanese, who were well aware that the loss of these islands would facilitate American air raids against the home islands, disrupting war manufacturing and severely damaging civilian morale.

Final Japanese plans for the defense of the Ogasawaras were overshadowed by the fact that the Imperial Japanese Navy had already lost most of its strength and could no longer prevent American landings. Moreover, aircraft losses throughout 1944 had been so heavy that, even if war production were not affected by American air attacks, combined Japanese air strength was not expected to increase to 3,000 aircraft until March or April 1945. Even then, these planes could not be used from bases in the home islands against Iwo Jima because their range did not exceed 900 km (559 miles); besides, all available aircraft had to be hoarded for possible use on Taiwan and adjacent islands near land bases.
In a postwar study, Japanese staff officers described the strategy applied in the defense of Iwo Jima in the following terms:

In the light of the above situation, seeing that it was impossible to conduct our air, sea, and ground operations on Iwo Jima toward ultimate victory, it was decided that in order to gain time necessary for the preparation of the Homeland defence, our forces should rely solely upon the established defensive equipment in that area, checking the enemy by delaying tactics. Even the suicidal attacks by small groups of our Army and Navy airplanes, the surprise attacks by our submarines, and the actions of parachute units, although effective, could be regarded only as a strategical ruse on our part. It was a most depressing thought that we had no available means left for the exploitation of the strategical opportunities which might from time to time occur in the course of these operations.
Daily bomber raids from the Marianas hit the mainland as part of Operation Scavenger. Iwo Jima served as an early warning station which radioed reports of incoming bombers back to mainland Japan, allowing Japanese air defenses to be prepared for the arrival of American bombers.

At the end of the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines the Allies were left with a two month lull in their operations prior to the planned invasion of Okinawa. Iwo Jima was strategically important: it provided an airbase for Japanese aircraft to intercept long-range B-29 bombers and provided a haven for Japanese naval units in dire need of any support available. The capture of Iwo Jima would eliminate these problems and provide a staging area for the eventual invasion of the Japanese mainland. The distance of B-29 raids would be nearly halved, and a base would be available for P-51 Mustang fighters to escort and protect the devastating bomber raids. Intelligence sources were confident that Iwo Jima would fall in five days, unaware that the Japanese were preparing a quintessentially defensive posture, radically departing from any of their previous tactics. So successful was the Japanese preparation that it was discovered after the battle that the hundreds of tons of Allied bombs and thousands of rounds of heavy naval gunfire left the Japanese defenders almost unscathed and ready to wreak losses on the U.S. Marines unparalleled up to that point in the Pacific War. In the light of the optimistic intelligence reports, the decision was made to invade Iwo Jima: the landing was designated Operation Detachment.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Confederate States Marine Corps
Every sea going country in the world has had a Marine Corps. These “soldiers of the sea” have written their names down in the annals of time and covered
themselves with glory and honor and are recognized as being the elite services of the world. The Royal Marines and The United States Marines are two of the better known branches and their history.

But there was a second American Marine Corps.

On 16 March 1861, the Confederate States Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama voted to establish a Marine Corps and set it’s authorized strength as 46 officers and 944 enlisted men, a strength that the Corps never reached in it’s brief existence. The Corps was organized into permanent companies, three of which were based in Virginia. Headquarters was established at Drewry’s Bluff, a naval strongpoint which commanded the approach to Richmond by the James River. Camp Beall, named in honor of the Commandant Colonel Lloyd Beall, served as the training and administrative headquarters for the Marine Corps from 1862 until 2 April 1865.

The mission of the Confederate Marine Corps was similar to that of the Federal Marine Corps in that it was tasked with providing detachments for all war ships and commerce raiders, guarding the Naval yards as well as shore batteries. As the quality of these Marines came to the front, their duties were increased to include manning the main guns on both ships as well as the shore batteries as well as serving as landing force and sharpshooters. Marines from Company A also were part of the crew of the ironclad CSS VIRGINIA ( formerly the USS MERRIMAC ) during its historic battle with the USS MONITOR in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Some of the installations that the Marines also served at was at the Naval Ship Yards at Gosport , Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Wilmington, North Carolina. Marines also served at Fort Fisher as well as the Batteries at Pensacola , Florida, Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia.
The Confederate Marines fought in the defense of Richmond and was part of the Army of Northern Virginia as it pulled out of the Petersburg trenches and in it’s retreat to Appomattox. They fought hard and distinguished themselves at the Battle of Saylor’s Creek and were surrendered at Appomattox Court House on 9 April 1865 along with the Army of Northern Virginia.
While many of the officers of the Confederate Marines were former US Marines, the commandant was not. Commandant Colonel Lloyd H. Beall was a former US Army paymaster who was based at St Louis, Mo. When the South seceded from the Union , he did what many Southern officers did- “went South”. Though born in Rode Island, he identified with the South. He was appointed by Confederate Secretary of the Navy , Stephen R Mallory as the Commandant of the Marine

Beall, had no experience as a Marine, but was an able and hard working administrator and worked hard to insure that the CSMC got the supplies, personnel and training that was needed to make the Marines an equal to their Northern counterparts. Because of his efforts, the Marine Corps had gained a distinguished reputation as being some of the best combat troops of the Confederate States Armed Forces.

Unfortunately, not much is left of the history of the CSMC. Beall, who lived in Richmond, Virginia after the war, kept almost all the records in his home. These records along with his own personal documents , were destroyed in a fire. In a fitting irony, Commandant Beall passed away on the anniversary of the establishment of the United States Marine Corps- 10 November 1887.

The battle honors of the Confederate Marine Corps include the Appomattox Campaign (1865 ) , the Peninsula Campaign (1862) Butler’s Bermuda Hundred Campaign, Defense of Fort Fisher, Wilmington, North Carolina, Richmond.

Uniforms and Ranks
While there are no known published Confederate Marine dress regulations, there is enough photographic and written evidence to give a reasonable picture of the Marines.

The standard officer cover was the French kepis. These caps were different colors, but the standard seems to be grey and blue with peaks and chinstraps of black leather. These covers were worn by the officers.

The coats were the universally grey frock coats with two rows of seven brass buttons each. The Army’s rank insignia : one , two and three collar stripes for second lieutenant to captain; one , two, three stars from major to colonel and gold Austrian knots on each sleeve-one braid for lieutenant, two for captain, and three for field grade officers. Many of these coats were grey, but there were a significant number that had dark blue collars and pointed cuffs as well as the US Marine Corps officer’s gold Russian shoulder knots.

The trousers were usually dark blue although one pair were sky blue with a black welt down the seam.

The fatigue dress were also blue color and made out of flannel or denim material. Vests were also worn and these were made with a standing collar, three or four slash pockets and nine small brass buttons down the front .

The marine buttons, which were made in England, were brass , plain, bearing the Roman letter “M” on the face, there was no unique marine Corps belt plate design.
Enlisted men wore dark blue French style kepis with black peaks and chinstraps and brass side buttons.
The regulations also indicated that enlisted men were to receive two uniform coats and four fatigue jackets during his enlistment and the cloth was to be grey.

Both coats and jackets were worn- Marines were seen in jackets near Richmond in 1864, but the longer frock coat seems to have been the standard.

Theses goats were grey and trimmed in black around the collar and the cuffs and was made of linen flax or for senior NCOs silk. Each coat bore a single row of seven brass buttons bearing the Roman letter “M” on it’s face and it reached to just above the knee.

The rank was indicated by the use of black chevrons worn with the points up, unlike their army counterparts who wore their chevrons with the points down.

The stripes were the same as in the army – corporal was indicated by two stripes, sergeant / three, 1st sergeant had a diamond in the center with three stripes, three stripes and ties were a quartermaster sergeant and a sergeant major wore three stripes and three arcs under .

The trousers were dark blue for winter and white cotton for summer.

Both blue and grey flannel shirts were worn as outer garments in hot climates. White cotton shirts were also worn under the coats along with a leather stock which was worn over the collar and under the frock coat.

Marines were issued 1853 British Enfield type rifled muskets in 1862 as the standard , but like their brothers in the Army, they used what ever was available to them ranging from altered flint lock muskets to captured US .58 caliber Springfield or copies of them. Marine NCOs also were issued Army swords along with bayonets, scabbards, cap box, cartridge boxes, knapsacks as used in the British Army.

Side arms were captured Colt 1860 Navy revolvers and the Le Mat revolvers. The Le Mat, designed by a Southerner , held nine .42 caliber pistol rounds which revolved around a .20 gauge smoothbore shotgun barrel ,( This was General J.E.B. Stuart’s personal weapon as well.) and was good for the close in fighting that could occur on a ship during a boarding. It was considered by the Confederate Navy to be of poor quality .

Much of this information was gleaned from several web sites on the CSMC . The uniform information was from the MEN AT ARMS SERIES:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Valentine's Day
NOAH'S NOTE: Before we get into the history of Valentine's Day, I want to wish Sara a Happy (February 14) Birthday. Sara is the wife of my good retired Marine buddy, Roy 'Dusty' Rhoads. I have always wondered why Sara was blessed with a wonderful and caring heart. I just recently learned that she was born on Valentine's Day. As members of the First Marine Division during World War II, both Dusty and I performed our duties with the quote in mind made by a great US Army General during World War I: "The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle." ~General John Pershing, US Army Commander of American Forces in World War I.
Saint Valentine's Day or Valentine's Day is a saints day commemorating Saint Valentine on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards, donating to charity or gifting candy. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine's Day. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
Valentine Traditions
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:

Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine ---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"

In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.

Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.

A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide dress. Later, the love seat or courting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not too closely!

Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry. As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.

Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.

If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children you will have.